Below is an excerpt from a White House Press Conference yesterday with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. President Bush reiterated that all options are on the table in regards to Iran's nuclear program.
Q "Mr. President, question. Regarding the ongoing attempts by Iran to acquire nuclear capability of atom bomb, would you -- are you willing to say at this time that a military action against Iran is no longer an option in light of the situation?"
PRESIDENT BUSH: "I will tell you this, that my position hasn't changed, and that is all options are on the table. I would hope that we could solve this diplomatically. And that's why the United States -- first of all, we take the threat very seriously. And I fully understand the concerns of any Israeli when they hear the voice of the man in Iran saying, on the one hand, we want to acquire the technologies and know-how to build a -- enrich uranium, which could then be converted into a nuclear weapon, and on the other hand, we want to destroy Israel. Look, if I were an Israeli citizen I would view that as a serious threat to my security. And as a strong ally of Israel, I view that as a serious threat to its security -- not only the security of Israel, but the security of the Middle East.
"That's why we are constantly working to remind our European friends, as well as Russia and other members of the U.N., we have an obligation to see if we can't work together to solve this issue diplomatically. That means to provide consequences to the Iranian government if they continue to pursue a nuclear weapon, such as financial sanctions, or economic sanctions. We want there to be a choice. We want people to see there's -- in isolation there's got a consequence to it, that there's a price that's paid for this kind of intransigence and these threatening tones.
And it's difficult work to keep the nations bound together to help deal with this issue diplomatically, but we have done a pretty good job so far. Now, whether or not they abandon their nuclear weapons program, we'll see. But at least we got unanimity so far, speaking -- at the U.N. Security Council -- speaking pretty clearly that there will be consequences. And there are being consequences, economic consequences beginning to affect the economy.
"Look, the Iranian people don't need to live under this kind of conditions. These are proud people with a great tradition. Their government can do better for them. And threatening the world has caused there to be isolation. And these good folks could have leadership that enables them to have a better economy and a better way of life, an economy and a way of life that enriches their families, that gives them a better chance to succeed. But, no, this group of people have made a different alternative, and now our job is to make sure that we continue to keep the pressure on."
Iran appears to have responded to these most recent comments with a threat of its own. According to the Washington Times:
"Iran yesterday refused to rule out using oil supplies as a weapon in the standoff with the United States over its nuclear program, saying Washington never excluded attacks on the Islamic republic.
"'When the Americans say that using the military option against Iran regarding its nuclear issue is not off the table, then Iran can say that it will not put aside the instrument of oil,' Hossein Kazempour Ardebili, Iran's representative to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, said in an interview with the Shargh newspaper.
"Asked where Iran's 'red line' on using oil as a weapon lay, he replied: 'The red line lies where the Americans fail to say that using military means against Iran is illegal.'"